Fierce college rivalry on tap for weekend
Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It's Alabama vs. Auburn weekend in Alabama. It is the fiercest of college football rivalries. It is the game of the year. It is a state civil war that divides friends and even families. It is bragging rights for the entire year. The loser has to live with his boasting next door neighbor for 364 days. It seems that one must choose a side no matter if you despise college football and could care less who wins.
Newcomers to our state are bewildered on this fall day each year. They cannot comprehend the madness that surrounds this epic war. It is truly that - a war. It is the game of the year!
Young boys all over Alabama grow up playing football in their front yards and dream of playing in this big game. It is said that when these two rivals meet one can throw out the record books. However, this is not true, in fact in 90 percent of the games the favorite won. A lot of SEC championships and bowl games have been decided in the game. It has made many Alabamians' Thanksgiving holiday either joyous or sad.
I liked the rivalry better when it was played at Legion Field, but I'm an old timer in heart and age.
The game was not played for forty years between 1908 and 1948. Myth has it that the game was halted because of the intense rivalry. This is not the case. The true history of the ceasing and renewal is that after the 1907 games the schools could not agree on the terms of the contract.
The dispute involved meal money, lodging, officials, and how many players each side could bring. Football was not the passion it is today so the two schools let the matter rest and the fans didn't seem to care. That began to change as college football grew to a major sport in the 1940's.
When the series resumed, a popular myth is that the Alabama Legislature called a special meeting and forced the teams to play. That never happened.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution in 1947 to encourage, not force, the schools to meet in football, and officials at Alabama and Auburn agreed. The Presidents of Auburn and Alabama simply talked with each other and decided it would be in the best interest of the schools to start playing again on an annual basis.
The contract was drawn up, papers were signed, and the rivals literally buried the hatchet. On the morning of December 4, 1948, the President of each school's student bodies dug a hole at Birmingham's Woodrow Wilson Park, tossed a hatchet in and buried it.
The series began again in 1948 with a 55-0 Alabama victory and the teams have squared off every season since.
Let's keep the game in its proper perspective Saturday. May the best team win. War Eagle and Roll Tide!
Steve Flowers is a political columnist. His column appears weekly in Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.